Let’s just cut to the chase–Paul Rodriguez is good, period. He’s a golden child–he has the Midas touch, as they say. He’s like the kid you grew up with who was good at everything. No matter the situation, he was good at it–getting chicks, friends–and he always had the best sack lunches. He could do kickflips before you, and all he’d say about them is they’re easy.

Paul’s one of those kids who has a trophy shelf at his house covered with first-place trophies in Little League, karate, and skating. You’d never know it, but he can also rock “Black Magic Woman” on guitar. Out of all those conquests, skating has finally left him with a challenge.

I first met him almost three years ago at the L.A. courthouse. He was like a little firecracker–exploding–doing every trick possible off the stage. I also remember Jim Greco being completely amazed by how good he was, which let me know I wasn’t the only one who saw talent in this kid. Over the past three years, he’s gotten his driver’s license, turned pro, beat Eric Koston at a 10,000-dollar game of SKATE, and still has fun skating the Northridge skatepark–he doesn’t even stress about going out and getting “hammers” for his next video part.

Paul’s a kid who’s kept the innocence of skating and having fun, while not letting all the fame and glory go to his head. He also doesn’t let the stress of being pro get him down, which is a perfect recipe for allowing him to progress at a rate that’ll have him around ten years from now and still love skating.

Over the next few pages, you’ll find photos I’ve shot of Paul when we’d just go skating without any kind of interview in mind. I want to give you a look at a kid with a talent for skating that does nothing but speak for itself.–Atiba